Samsung Galaxy Star 2, Star Advance And Ace NXT Launched In India

Samsung recently launched three new entry-level smartphones in India. The Galaxy Star 2, Galaxy Star Advance and Galaxy Ace NXT runs on the latest Android 4.4 (KitKat) Operating System with TouchWiz Essence UI on top of it. These handsets support 12 Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya and Assamese.

“Samsung is committed to offer the best in technology and innovative products at an affordable price to the consumers. We believe in cutting across language and data cost barriers to ensure every consumer has access to the world of smartphones. Especially created for the Indian market Galaxy Star 2, Galaxy Star Advance and Galaxy Ace NXT have been launched to provide a larger set of consumers with the experience of superior mobile technologies and richer internet experience at an affordable price.”

– Asim Warsi, Vice President, Marketing, Mobile & IT, Samsung India

Samsung Galaxy Star 2:

samsung_galaxy_star_2

  • 3.5 inch touchscreen display
  • 320 × 480 pixels resolution
  • 1 GHz processor
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) OS
  • 2 megapixel rear camera
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • FM Radio
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 4 GB internal memory
  • 32 GB expandable memory
  • 1300 mAh battery

Samsung Galaxy Star Advance:

samsung_galaxy_star_advance

  • 4.3 inch touch screen display
  • 800 x 480 pixels resolution
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core processor
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) OS
  • 3 megapixel rear camera with LED Flash
  • 3G Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • FM Radio
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 4 GB internal memory
  • 32 GB expandable memory
  • 1800 mAh battery

Samsung Galaxy Ace NXT:

samsung_galaxy_ace_nxt

  • 4 inch touch screen display
  • 800 x 480 pixels resolution
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core processor
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) OS
  • 3 megapixel rear camera with LED Flash
  • 3G Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • FM Radio
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 4 GB internal memory
  • 32 GB expandable memory
  • 1500 mAh battery

Samsung Galaxy Star Advance and Ace NXT will be available in black and white colors for INR 7,400, while the Galaxy Star 2 will be available in white and gray color along with premium Gameloft games for INR 5,100. Samsung has also partnered with Vodafone to offer 200 MB of 3G data for 6 months to the owners of these smartphones.

Three New Free Android Apps to Boost Your Productivity

As per AppBrain, there are over 1.3 million apps in the Android market with about a thousand new ones being added every day. Among the scores of wallpaper, ringtone, and other low quality apps, it’s not easy to find out the ones that are truly useful. I’m always on the lookout for apps that’ll make my phone easier and faster to use. Here are three of my favourite free productivity apps that were released in the last couple of months.

Android Productivity Apps

Better Open With

Better Open With - File Types
Better Open With – File Types

Unlike many other platforms, Android allows you to install third party apps to replace several key stock apps and functionalities. However, the process for managing the default app for every aspect of the operating system isn’t exactly very intuitive. There is no single utility or settings page to handle all of your app defaults. Instead, you need to navigate to the Apps page within Settings, select the App that’s currently set as default, and then ‘Clear Defaults’ every time you want to change the app associations. Better Open With is a brand new app that offers a bit more flexibility. The app currently handles default file associations for seven types of content including audio, video, and the web. These cover most of the most common file types; however, I am hoping to see support for more in the future.

Better Open With - Select App
Better Open With – App Selection

Setting up Better Open With (BOW) involves two steps. First you need to open the app and select the default app for each category. After this, you need to set BOW as the default app for each of these categories. BOW gives you the option of either opening the default app straight away, or presenting you with a list of options similar to the one you get by default in Android. The big advantage with BWO, however, is that you can set the app selection screen to be dismissed and the default option to be automatically selected after a predefined amount of time. I absolutely love this option as it provides the flexibility of changing the app on the fly, but still doesn’t force you to tap and select an app every time.

Better Open With - App List
Better Open With – App List

[ Download Better Open With ]

Copy Bubble

Copy Bubble
Copy Bubble

One of the many neat features of Microsoft Office is the Clipboard, which allows you to not just paste the most recently copied content, but from as any as twenty four items that you’ve copied recently. Copy Bubble provides the same functionality on Android. As a name suggests it’s a tiny bubble that floats on your screen. Every time you copy something, Copy Bubbles stores a copy of it. If you want to access anything that you had previously copied, all you need to do is tap on the bubble and select from the list of saved clipboard items. These items are available to be directly shared or copied to the Android clipboard. The bubble size can be configured and it is by default small enough to e not too obtrusive. It’s also easy to dismiss the bubble when you don’t want it, but the only way to bring it back is to launch the app again.

Copy Bubble - Floating Bubble
Copy Bubble – Floating Bubble
Copy Bubble - Clipboard
Copy Bubble – Clipboard

[ Download Copy Bubble ]

Heads Up!

Heads Up notifications is among the many new features of Android L. When a new notification arrives, the notification is displayed in a floating window on top of the active app. This allows you to quickly get a glimpse of messages and other important stuff even when you are watching a movie or playing a game. The code for this was already present in KitKat, but this feature wasn’t enabled by Google. There’s an Xposed Module to enable this on KitKat systems; however, there’s an easier way that also works on devices without root.

Heads Up!
Heads Up!

The ‘Heads Up!’ app ports the heads up notification feature from Android L, and makes it available to devices running on Android 4.3 and above. Heads Up! allows very granular control over which apps should trigger a heads up notification. It also allows you to control the position and transparency of the floating notification toast as well as the automatic dismiss time.

Heads Up! - Notification
Heads Up! – Notification

Heads Up! is a paid app in the Play Store, but you can download a free copy from the XDA forums.

[ Download Heads Up! ]

Instagram Launches Bolt, Its One Tap Messaging App

Facebook owned Instagram recently launched its newest messaging app named Bolt. It is a one tap messaging app for Android and iOS smartphones which directly compete with the extremely popular Snapchat app. Bolt is currently available only for users in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa, while the app will roll out globally in the coming weeks.

bolt_1

Similar to Snapchat, this app allows you to send images and videos to your friends, which is automatically deleted after it has been viewed by the recipient. It also lets you annotate messages with text captions. You don’t need a Facebook or Instagram account to sign-up. Bolt allows you to sign up using your phone number and add up to 20 friends in your favorite list.

You can easily send images by tapping on your friend’s face or you can even long-press to send a video. After the message has been received, your friends can directly reply by sending text or images. The best part is the shake-to-undo feature, which retracts your message by shaking your phone within the first few seconds. Currently, you cannot send messages to more than one person at a time and you cannot add more than 20 friends from your contacts to the favorite list.

bolt_2

Apart from taking photos from the rear camera, Bolt also allows you to take selfies. You can also turn on the flast from the on-screen button. To delete a message, just swipe it to the right and it is gone forever. We’ll review the Bolt app in the coming days. Stay tuned! If you live in New Zealand, Singapore or South Africa, you can download the Bolt app right now from the download links given below.

[ Bolt for Android ] | [ Bolt for iOS ]

Ladoo Offers Free Mobile Recharges for Engaging with Advertisers

Platforms like Tapjoy, which incentivize app downloads, have earned Apple’s wrath in the past for messing up App Store rankings. Critics say that these apps inflate download counts and manipulate app store rankings. However, there’s no denying that a lot of users and advertisers love incentivized download platforms. Hence, it’s not surprising that Airloyal is attempting to bring the same concept to India.

Ladoo - Earn Free Mobile Recharges

Airloyal’s Ladoo app for Android offers free mobile recharges to users for completing simple tasks. Almost all of the tasks that I saw on Ladoo’s offer wall involved downloading and installing free apps from Google Play. The reward amount depends on the advertiser, all of them ranged between ₹2 and ₹8.

Ladoo - Get Free Mobile Recharges

The name Ladoo is meant to symbolize the spirit of gifting and celebration. “If you think about it, you would have never really paid for the Ladooos you have eaten”, remarked Raja Hussain, Founder and CEO of Airloyal.

Ladoo Team
Ladoo Team

Airloyal’s company structure is based out of Singapore, but currently all the team members are in Chennai and Bangalore offices. Having raised funding from Australia’s tech millionaire Zhenya Tsvetnenko, Airloyal is looking to expand quickly and launch in a couple of South East Asian countries before the end of the current quarter. Ladoo claims itself to be profitable and is in the process of raising its Series A round. “When there is an ‘apple’ from the US that the world loves, why can’t there be a Ladooo from India that the world can enjoy?” quipped Raja Hussain.

Ladoo - Offers Wall

Mr. Hussain informed me that a dedicated user can earn over ₹ 500 in rewards every month. My own estimate based on what I’ve seen over the past week is a lot less. However, Ladoo features geo-targeting, which means means that everyone wont see every offer. Although, Mr. Hussain declined to give concrete user figures, he did reveal that within the first ninety days of its launch, Ladoo managed to register several thousand new users every day, with more than 40% daily retention, and generated almost 1 million instances of guaranteed engagement for brands. More than 40,000 offers are being completed every day.

Ladoo - Typical App Offer

The usage figures are quite good for a new app with minimal marketing capabilities. Ladoo is quite obviously offering something that a lot of users want – free talktime. However, the bigger question is how valuable are they to the brands? Currently, most of the apps advertised through Ladoo are good apps from big brands that I don’t mind having on my phone. Brands like Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal, Quickr, Tata, BookmyShow, and Airtel are driving downloads to their app through Ladoo. The quality of advertisers is a lot higher than that in other similar apps. Ladoo claims that early clients like TicketGoose are happy with the results and have continued to work with them. Ladoo’s biggest challenge will be continuing to deliver high quality leads even as the number of users increase. Quick downloads are a great way to climb through Play Store rankings and get your apps discovered. However, an engaged user base will enable Ladoo to retain the bigger players who often have higher rewards and offer better experiences.

Thomas Was Alone Comes to iOS and Android

The BAFTA award winning indie platformer Thomas Was Alone is now available on Android and iOS. The game garnered critical acclaim for its PC, Mac, and PS3 editions, and is now promising the same emotional journey to mobile gamers.

Thomas Was Alone - Title Card

Unlike many recent indie platformers that focus on bringing back the 80s style challenging gameplay, Thomas Was Alone focuses on keeping things simple. A majority of the fifty levels in the game are simple enough for even the most casual gamers to enjoy. The protagonist of this game is Thomas – a self-aware AI created accidentally. Thomas is represented as a simple red rectangle, and all he can do is move and jump. Over the course of his journey he meets up with other AIs, who are also represented as quadrilaterals. By combining each character’s unique ability you need to traverse each level and reach the portal that’ll take you to the next one.

Thomas Was Alone - Game Commentary

Mike Bithell – the creator of the game, introduces enough variations and novelties to keep you engaged till the end, but the gameplay is still fairly basic. What elevates this game to greatness is the atmosphere. Thomas’ journey is expertly narrated by Danny Wallace, whose humorous and quirky comments establish an emotional connect that’ll leave you thinking about the game long after you have finished it. David Housden’s minimalistic background composition suitable complements the level design and the narration.

Thomas Was Alone - Platforming

I played the Android version of the game and did notice one annoying issue with the port. The option for switching between the characters is on the left and right edges of the screen, which makes it very easy to accidentally hit the Home button. Switching between characters requires too much attention and precision and often distracts you from the game. Hopefully, the developers will tweak the control scheme to address this issue. Other than this the game worked flawlessly, without any performance issues.

The game is available during this weekend at a 33% discounted price of $3.99, which is a steal for a game of this calibre. To make the deal even sweeter, the Bossa Studios has included the Benjamin’s Flight DLC pack with twenty additional levels in the mobile version of the game. Thomas Was Alone is a mesmerizing experience that I can’t recommend enough.

[ Download Thomas Was Alone from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store ]

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